Measuring the effect of overgrazing in the Sonoran Desert

Nevin A. Bryant, Lee F. Johnson, Anthony J. Brazel, Robert Balling, Charles F. Hutchinson, Louisa R. Beck

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

50 Scopus citations


Long term overgrazing in Mexico has caused a sharp discontinuity in vegetative cover along the international border in the semi-arid Sonoran Desert. The United States side, protected from overgrazing by the Taylor Act since 1934, exhibits longer, more plentiful grasses and less bare soil than adjoining Mexican lands. Satellite- and ground-based datasets were used in a multi-scale examination of the differential radiative and reflective characteristics of the two regimes. The more exposed Mexican landscape dries more rapidly than the United States following summer convective precipitation. After about three days, depletion of soil moisture evokes a period of higher surface and air temperatures in Mexico. Good correspondence was found between remote and in situ measures of surface temperature and biomass.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)243-264
Number of pages22
JournalClimatic Change
Issue number2-3
StatePublished - Dec 1990

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Global and Planetary Change
  • Atmospheric Science


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